This operation conducted at the Nevada Test Site consisted of 11 atmospheric tests. There were three airdrops, seven tower tests, and one airburst.
Functioning between March 17 and June 4, 1953, this operation involved the testing of new theories, using both fission and fusion "boosted" devices -- boosted devices are not multistage thermonuclear operation devices. A new and revolutionary method of producing deliverable nuclear weapons for use in a potential nuclear battlefield in Europe was successfully tested with the atomic cannon.
Approximately 21,000 Department of Defense military and civilian personnel participated in Operation UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE as part of the Desert Rock V exercise.
Unfortunately, Operation UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE, particularly the HARRY tower test, drew a great deal of public criticism as resultant fallout levels produced increased offsite radiation exposures, as would be expected for much greater yields and numbers of devices tested in the continental United States (CONUS) over those of the previous two years.
This was a time of international emergency, and great fear of war with the Soviet Union, triggered by the raging conflict in Korea, multiplied the urgency of further tests for the atomic battlefield. The race to stockpile ever-increasing power in nuclear explosives geometrically expanded with the advent of the development of thermonuclear designs.
It is easy to look back and pass judgment on better ways to spend money as well as protect ways of life from any side, yet it was the best way the best minds of those times knew how to do it, and it worked.
The tests comprising the 1953 Operation UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE were as follows:
ANNIE, March 17, tower, weapons related, 16 kilotons (kt)
NANCY, March 24, tower, weapons related, 24 kt
RUTH, March 31, tower, weapons related, 200 tons (a "fizzle" of a highly experimental design)
DIXIE, April 6, airdrop, weapons related, 11 kt
RAY, April 11, tower, weapons related, 200 tons (a "fizzle" of a highly experimental design)
BADGER, April 18, tower, weapons related, 23 kt
SIMON, April 25, tower, weapons related, 43 kt
ENCORE, May 8, airdrop, weapons effects, 27 kt
HARRY, May 19, tower, weapons related, 32 kt
GRABLE, May 25, fired from 280 mm gun, airburst, weapons related, 15 kt
CLIMAX, June 4, airdrop, weapons related, 61 kt
Reed Hadley narrated this film. Parallel to his public life as a radio, television, and movie star -- with the credit of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- Reed Hadley worked in a top secret military role as a presenter for Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP), Department of Defense, and Department of Energy -- then called the Atomic Energy Commission -- films.
The blurriness of Kodachrome I films was attributed to the immense grain of very slow 16 mm ISO 10 color film, as well as the bleeding of dyes in the celluloid. These films were so slow that night scenes had to be simulated using blue filters in daylight. Blue dyes were the least sensitive to light in this stock, and therefore simulated darkness using blue filters. Notice in 1950s cowboy films that night scenes contained long shadows and bright highlights from sunshine, due to this technique of low light simulation required by Kodachrome I.
Periods of silence during this film were strictly intended. This film was carefully sanitized by nuclear weapons experts and Department of Defense officials to remove secret information.
Observers of this film cannot reasonably demand more in quality for this film, and the public is fortunate just to be able to see these films. This film release was not designed to present this film without flaws due to aging and the notorious instability of its original Kodachrome I color film stock. This secret film has been sanitized, with secret portions removed, after the complete version was locked away for decades in top secret vaults, where the unsanitized version remains to this day. The celluloid version of these films are increasingly brittle and very few people have security clearances to view the unedited versions that contain jealously guarded secrets to this day.
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Contact InformationFor further questions and answers, please visit the Atomic Forum: http://www.atomicforum.org. The purpose of the Atomic Forum is to objectively discuss, learn, and archive information related to nuclear weapons development, past and present.
Colorcolor, originated from 16 mm Kodachrome I celluloid stocks of the time
Contact informationFor further questions and answers, please visit the Atomic Forum: http://www.atomicforum.org. The purpose of the Atomic Forum is to objectively discuss, learn, and archive information related to nuclear weapons development, past and present.
RightsThis film has a license because of the personal work in technical processes of digitally improving this film's quality.
This license for "Operation Upshot-Knothole" is held by administrators of the Atomic Forum [http://www.atomicforum.org], the provider of this film.